It's something I shy away from talking about with people, but it's always there. I keep from having conversations about it because it's just too tough, awkward, and guilt-inducing. I become heavy-hearted when the topic arises. It's homesickness, and it's something that we've all experienced in one way or another. It's taken my by surprise, though, because I thought that I hated my home. Or at least, I thought I was better suited living somewhere else. I still believe that, but the longing to go home continues to claw at my insides.
Living in Sandy, Utah was dull. There wasn't much for me to do, which was okay during my childhood and early teenage years, where I greatly prefered to stay indoors. I retain that quality, and describing me as a homebody would be accurate. But, when I learned how to drive, I enjoyed taking long drives to some of my favourite places around Sandy. When I moved into the city, it became even more fun, more adventurous, and I quickly found that I didn't even need to get in a car to explore and find interesting places. Salt Lake was an absolute goldmine of character and quirky little gems of places.
Around the time I met George, I was really settling into Salt Lake. I lived in a tiny, not-so-wonderful apartment. Some might call the apartment complex and the surrounding area "ghetto", or shady. And it was. But it was a step in the right direction for me. Throughout the following several months, I lived with Pete and Kendra, an incredible couple, in their house on the other side of the city. It was a beautiful house in a wonderful area. While taking up residence with them, I paid my first visit to the UK, and upon my return, I was lucky enough to be allowed to live with my cousin and one of my greatest friends, Steve, while I made arrangements to move to the UK. Those arrangements ended up becoming delayed and complicated, but that's another story.
I remember my visit to the UK. It was exciting, but I didn't feel like Southampton was compatible with me, especially not after I'd acquired a taste for living in a bustling city. Salt Lake City may not be New York, Los Angeles, London or Paris, but it's still a good-sized city with plenty going on. Southampton, on the other hand, just felt...empty. Still, I enjoyed my visit and had determined by the end of it that I wanted to take my life there and start a new chapter.
On the last day of May, 2012, I found myself in a car with a British licence plate, driving on the left side of the road, heading back to George house. George was beside me. I looked out the window and saw familiar roads, signs, and areas rushing by. It didn't take long for me to soak George's shoulder in tears as I blubbered, "I miss my mom". I guess it hadn't really hit me until that moment that I wasn't going to see her, or anyone else, or Salt Lake, for a very long time.
That's not to say that I hadn't been preparing for the dramatic shift in my living situation. I worked hard in the months leading up to my departure from the US to be kind to everyone, to take mental pictures of beautiful sunsets and to graciously take in the smells, sounds, and feelings of Utah. I can remember this time of my life so vividly, because I had a heightened sense of awareness. I took time to find beauty in the things and places that had surrounded me for so long. Unfortunately for me, I have failed to discover that same beauty in my current settings.
I thought this longing would go away. I thought I'd adapt by now, that I'd come to terms with living here. I expected I'd get a grip and be able to honestly say Southampton is my home now. But the reality is that in this past year or so, each and every day, a bit of the illusion I've forced myself to see and live by has become more faded, bit by bit. This is not my home. I don't fit in this city.
Now, to be clear, I enjoy the UK on the whole. I really do. There's such a rich and long history here. I like the traditions, pub food is way too good for the low price you can get it at, and I love the documentaries you can catch on TV. I would say that generally, the UK is a better match for me than the US. The culture is far more secular, homosexuality really isn't as hot a topic, and the people seem to have a "live and let live" code that they live by, same as me. And I don't wish to offend George, his family, friends, or anyone else who might read this who lives and loves Southampton. This is their home, just like Salt Lake/Sandy is mine, and I appreciate that. Every strangeland to one is home to another.
Would I move back to the US? No, probably not. I certainly wouldn't move back to Utah. I stand by what I've said in the past about it being right that I move on from that place and explore new horizons. I don't want to go back. I want to stay in the UK. I want to continue to build a life here. But the pains that homesickness bring get to be too much at times. I don't like talking to people directly about it, because the people I know here try to "fix" it, understandably so, and the people I know in Utah just say, "Come back". It's hard to say, but neither of these work. I'm not sure what can be done to help relieve me of the horrible sickness. Southampton just isn't Salt Lake.